The Senate’s longest serving Republican is thinking about running for another term.
Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a member of the Senate since 1977 and its president pro tempore, said after Wednesday’s leadership elections that he was getting significant pressure to seek an eighth term.
Hatch, 82, had previously said he would retire at the end of his current term, in two years time.
“I’ve got a lot of people asking me to. A lot of my colleagues are asking me to, a lot of people in Utah are asking me to,” Hatch said. “You know that I had said that … this would be my last term, but circumstances have greatly changed, so I’ll have to look at it.”
The prospect of Republicans controlling the White House and the House and Senate is an appealing prospect for the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy and entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
“I have a lot of people pressuring me to, because they know what I can do. And they know that as chairman of the Finance Committee, we make a real difference around here,” Hatch said. “I’ll honestly look at it, as much as I can.”
Hatch is expected to be a key player on several priorities of President-elect Donald Trump. The Finance Committee would lead efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, as well as overhauling the tax code. Finance also has the responsibility of dealing with the funding mechanisms for transportation and infrastructure spending.
Hatch said that Evan McMullin, the former intelligence officer and House Republican staffer who launched a long-shot campaign for the presidency that focused on Utah, visited his office Tuesday.
Hatch said he thought McMullin would be looking to run for an office below that of the presidency.
“I like him a lot. He’s a real nice guy,” the senator said. “He’s a very decent guy as far as I’m concerned. … I think he has a future.”
Hatch then jokingly delivered a warning to McMullin should he decide to challenge him — if Hatch, in fact, runs for re-election.
“That’d be his right, but that’d be a big mistake,” Hatch said.